Plant Skeletons Decompose

290 million years
or 71 meters to today

Geolo­gical era: Paleo­zoic / Permian

Some fungi develop the abil­ity to break down lignin. Volcanic erup­tions, extens­ive coal fires and decom­pos­i­tion of lignin reduce the oxygen and increase the carbon diox­ide content of the atmo­sphere. Oceans become more acidic. There is a rapid rise in temper­at­ure (green­house effect). The fourth mass extinc­tion takes place. It is the largest in the history of the earth. 95% of marine life and 75% of land organ­isms disap­pear. With the Permian, the era of the Paleo­zoic ends and the Meso­zoic begins.

The climate becomes drier and more contin­ental. It becomes warmer, the glaciers above the South Pole melt, the sea level rises again. This happens in great fluc­tu­ations; the contin­ents are repeatedly flooded and fall dry again. This creates the large salt deposits.

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